January 2003

For pen enthusiasts, before it is too late, 2003 should be the year for a resolution to support your local pen shop. As not only is the specialty pen company having a hard time surviving, but the specialty pen retailer could just be a dying breed.

  It was within the last two years that pen collectors saw the great Italian pen company, Montegrappa, be one more pen company to become part of the holdings of the luxury goods companies. The company was purchased by the Richemont Group. The pens, like other luxury pen items have been pulled from Internet sites and sales will be limited to approved retail locations.
  Pen retailers themselves are being changed from pen stores to stores that sell luxury items. I have talked to numerous retailer who have indicated that items other than pens are now needed to bring in a required level of revenue.
  From my perspective, an added range of pen related items goes well with the whole experience of a great fountain pen. Desk sets, leather pen cases, and good quality writing paper are all sought after items for me when I visit a store. Watches and luggage seem to be needed but just get in the way of the pen thing for me.
  The Internet is often needed. I receive numerous e-mails from pen enthusiasts who simply have no good local pen shop. But often the Internet, as a search for the lowest price, takes away business from a pen retailer.
  I was recently sent a site to review and was impressed at the series of questions asked of the purchaser. How they held their pen - straight or at an angle. Where did the hand grip the pen, at the bottom or part way up the body. How much pressure is put on the nib. These are the very questions and observations that a good pen retailer asks and makes as pens are tried out in stores. It is part of the process that a great pen store goes through in helping an individual pick out the right pen.
  While in Victoria, BC for Christmas I really enjoyed the opportunity to meet with a pen retailer, hold a variety of pens, talk about what is new etc. It was a mutually beneficial experience. For Jim of Simply the Best in Victoria I purchased a Stipula Etruria Roller Ball. For me, I added a great pen to my collection.
  So, not to put any nails in the success of the Internet. Internet pen sellers play an important role. But, where possible, do support your local pen dealer. The whole pen experience just won't be as enjoyable without them.
  Glenn Marcus